Pittsfield man ordered held for 4 months after third OUI charge


PITTSFIELD — A city man accused of borrowing a car, driving it while intoxicated, hitting another vehicle and then severing a utility pole while trying to pull into a driveway was ordered held without bail for 120 days.

James Cooney's attorney, Robert Fuster, argued against holding him. There were conditions of release that could be imposed to ensure the public's safety including a curfew, GPS monitoring and daily alcohol testing, but did not excuse his client's actions, Fuster said.

"[Cooney] had a screw-up, and it's a big screw-up as far as I'm concerned," Fuster said.

Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Katy Innes was more blunt in her assessment of Cooney's behavior.

"He drinks, he drives, he hits things," she said during Cooney's dangerousness hearing in Central Berkshire District Court Wednesday before Judge William Rota.

Cooney, 48, was arrested Dec. 9 on charges of driving a motor vehicle under the influence of liquor (third offense), negligent operation of a motor vehicle, and operating a motor vehicle in violation of a license restriction for driving a car without a court-ordered ignition interlock device.

Fuster said Cooney has such a device in his personal vehicle, but borrowed someone else's car that evening.

Innes argued that indicates a willingness to ignore an order designed to keep himself and others safe.

"Instead, he takes someone else's car to drink and drive drunk," she said.

Cooney is accused of driving that vehicle under the influence, striking a car in Pittsfield and striking a utility pole on Kirchner Road in Dalton a few minutes later while attempting to pull into the driveway of his parents' home, then leaving the car and walking into the house.

Police arrived after the accident was reported and Cooney repeatedly told officers he'd "messed up" and admitted to having "a couple" of beers, according to the police report.

Innes said there was a 12-pack of beer in Cooney's vehicle with four cans missing.

When asked if he'd be willing to take a field sobriety test following the crash, Cooney put his hands out and told police they "should just take him in."

He refused breath and chemical tests, but police did submit a preservation order for Cooney's blood and police applied for a search warrant to have it tested.

Cooney can appeal Rota's decision regarding his bail status to the Superior Court.

He is due back in court on Jan. 15 for a pre-trial hearing.

Contact Bob Dunn at 413-496-6249.


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